DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I feel very hard on myself because I have not even dared to approach many women I barely knew for a one night stand. Should the time frame in which I hookup with someone determine how likeable I am? It’s hard not to compare myself to men who have hit it off in the span of hours.
This instantaneous scenario has made me very self-conscious for taking weeks or, even months, instead of pulling it off in hours of knowing someone.
Gotta Go Fast
DEAR GOTTA GO FAST: OK GGF, I am going to preface this by saying that I know this is going to sound dismissive and I promise you it’s not: slow your roll.
This is very much a case of, to mangle The Bard: “there is no good or bad but that thinking makes it so”. The issue here isn’t that you’re doing something wrong or that you’re less desirable or sexy than other people. The issue is that you’re putting unnecessary and pointless pressure on yourself for no reason other than making yourself feel bad. The only person who is judging you on how long it may take for you to hook up with someone is, well, you. And if other people are judging you for it, those are folks whose opinions should be dropped into the nearest available sewer.
What you really need to do is take a second and ask yourself why the length of time matters, and to whom. That is: why are you judging yourself for how long it does or doesn’t take to hook up with a person? What is the actual, tangible benefit of beating a particular time?
OK, that’s a bit of a trick question, because I already know the answer. And so do you, if you’re honest. The reason is ego, pure and simple. This isn’t really about sex or attraction or skill, it’s about trying to prove something to yourself and the critic in your head. You’re trying to prove to yourself that you’re desirable, that you’re attractive and I’m willing to bet cash money it’s also about dealing with feeling like a loser. You are trying to prove to others (mostly yourself and the critics in your head) that you’re better than you were, that you’re not the same person you were back in the days that you feel ashamed of and the time it takes is how you’re keeping score.
Trust me: I know that feeling well. I have been there, done that and I had my own tally sheet that was my own yardstick of “see, I’m NOT the One Who’s Bad With Girls!”. I just focused on numbers more than time.
Funny thing about that? It didn’t me feel better. In fact, it made me feel worse. The “accomplishments” were fleeting when I achieved them, but the self-recrimination I felt when I “failed” was worse. And in my push to rack up numbers, I was training myself not only to be careless with other people and the way I treated them but also to myself. I would focus more on trying to get laid than actually, y’know, finding people I liked. So I’d have hook-ups that left me feeling empty almost as soon as the afterglow faded, nights that left me feeling lower than a snake’s ass in a drainage ditch and the slowly dawning realization that I was being a toxic asshole and it was having a negative effect on other areas of my life and self-esteem.
Giving up the focus on numbers and focusing more on connections helped immensely.
This is why the issue here isn’t that you’re seeking casual sex or NSA hook-ups, it’s the why of it. If you’re someone who prefers casual partners or likes or needs sexual novelty, that’s all good; you do what’s right for you. But you’re treating it more as a form of validation than an expression of your sexuality and that is the problem. Especially when part of it is using other people’s (supposed) success to punch yourself in the balls in the process.
Here’s the thing: seduction isn’t a race, nor is attraction a time trial. You aren’t getting points for getting somebody in bed faster than someone else – whether in the context of a no-strings hook-up or the start of a potential long-term relationship. Focusing on trying to make it happen as quickly as possible is purely about you, in ways that will never be enough to make those feelings go away.
Nor, for that matter, are you in competition with anyone else. This isn’t a matter of numbers. Someone hooking up with a person they met that night at the bar or club doesn’t mean that they’re automatically more attractive or appealing than you, the guy who knew someone for a month or two before you got together. It just means that their circumstances are different than yours.
There’re many things to keep in mind here. First is that attraction and attractiveness isn’t universal. Put five people in a room and you’re going to have six opinions about who’s attractive and who isn’t. I’m sure you can think of women you’ve known who are perfectly lovely, even conventionally hot, but who simply don’t do it for you. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything objectively wrong or lesser about them, it just means that they’re missing the x-factor that gets your motor humming. The same is true for women; just because someone’s not into you doesn’t mean you’re undesirable. It just means you’re not their particular flavor.
It’s also worth remembering that people – guys, gals and non-binary pals – have sex and hook up for a host of reasons that have nothing to do with attraction or the “worthiness” of the other person. Sometimes they’re bored and horny and that person is the least objectionable option to scratch their itch. Sometimes they’re trying to prove a point – to themselves, to their exes or partners, to the universe. Other times, they’re lonely and just want a warm body to make them feel less alone, or there’s something about that person specifically.
If one person hooks up faster than the other, that is, similarly, not a referendum on anything other than the specific confluence of events. It was two specific people, at a specific time and place. And to be sure: there are people who can pull like that at least semi-regularly. But the main reason they can isn’t because they’re inherently hotter or they exude special pheromones or they’re “just that alpha, bro”, it’s that they’re very good at spotting the circumstances aligning and taking advantage of it. That, again, isn’t a value judgement about them, nor does it say anything about you.
All of this is why this is very much a “the call is coming from inside the house” situation. The reason why it’s bothering you is because you’ve made it more important than it actually is, for reasons that are ultimately not great for your overall emotional health. This is why I’d recommend that you stop worrying about speed or numbers or whatever other metric you’re using to “prove” things to yourself and instead focus on quality. While I’m all in favor of folks racking up numbers if that’s what they’re into, I’m also a big believer in “it should be worth it for reasons beyond adding another notch in the bedpost”. Trust someone who’s been there and done that: a few hook-ups with folks who you actually like and can have a good conversation with is far superior to dozens of hook-ups with people whose names you can barely remember the next morning.
The same goes for speed. A couple weeks or months to build the sexual tension and anticipation, connection and feeling of safety leading to a hook-up is going to give you better results than trying to make things happen as fast as possible – and it’ll be much better for you and your various hook-up partners.
Think of it this way: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Not being worried about speed means you’re better able to do it right and well and mutually enjoyable. Getting that under your belt means that in time, the process becomes easier and more fulfilling… which will also frequently mean it goes more smoothly and effectively and thus quicker.
But do it right? You won’t be worried about the timing, because it’ll happen in its own time. And you won’t be upset by how long it takes because it won’t be about you or proving something to yourself; it’ll be about you and the person you’re hooking up with, and what you do together.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org